The Emphasis is on Location, Not GIS

June 7 - 11, 2004 By Susan Smith
A weekly news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published GIS product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by GISCafe.

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! MapInfo is a company that is planted squarely in the location business and has been there for some time. GISWeekly spoke with MapInfo's Doug Gordon, director of product management, and Moshe Binyamin, product manager, about MapXtreme® 2004. The market for location based intelligence encompasses more than traditional GIS these days and Gordon and Binyamin pointed out that the target market for MapInfo is not necessarily GIS experts, but the market as a whole. Read about it in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, New Products, Going on Around the Web, and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
The Emphasis is on Location, Not GIS
By Susan Smith

MapInfo is a company that is planted squarely in the location business and has been there for some time. With the recent release and shipping of their MapXtreme® 2004 they round out their offering of location products.

GISWeekly spoke with MapInfo's Doug Gordon director of product management, and Moshe Binyamin, product manager, about MapXtreme® 2004. The market for location based intelligence encompasses more than traditional GIS these days and Gordon and Binyamin pointed out that the target market for MapInfo is not necessarily GIS experts, but the market as a whole. “The value that we've seen both from customers who have embraced our technology has been very generic in nature,” explained Gordon. “Yes we have sales to very traditional GIS customers, but on the other hand, we have predictive analytics, telecommunications, and government customers that utilize location as part of their overall decision system. So if you look at it in that perspective, the release of MapXtreme 2004 continues in that vein of promoting location, which is a key capability for any organization that wants to leverage the power of location.”

“We try to be very explicit about the fact that MapInfo is not a GIS company in the traditional sense, it's a location company. GIS as a science is one of the ways you can apply location but it also has specific tendencies that MapInfo doesn't ascribe to about their business. Location intelligence should not be a standalone science, or a technology that is used off in one portion of the business and disconnected from the rest. MapInfo is trying to bring out technologies that let customers use location as one of the analytical tools they have at their disposal. Therefore our tools are built into their environment or built to be used by developers with existing skill sets. So, for example, by using the .NET development platform we're saying, the developers the companies already employ should be able to use location tools just like they do other tools if a customer is trying to solve that type of problem.”

“If you look at customers who use traditional GIS' overall needs, they need to analyze information from a GIS perspective and then they need to act upon that information from another perspective,” said Binyamin. “For example, we have a customer who does land use management and parcel mapping, but at the same time they want to run their document management system based on parcels. Parcels could be properties they manage; and letters that are being sent with regards to a specific parcel they would like to attach as well. So they start with developing a GIS system that obviously manages and maps all the GIS capability to set up the system, but then they would like to connect to their other systems that have a GIS link or connection to say, given this parcel, what other information do I have? We're hearing these requirements over and over again. We can start from a location perspective, but there are many other ways we'd like to access that information, not necessarily only from a GIS perspective. A location based system is only one way of analyzing data or aggregating data, or accessing corporate assets of information in an organization. Therefore we need to integrate and provide access to those other systems as well as provide robust GIS capabilities when looking at it from a GIS perspective.”

MapXtreme 2004 is a complete deliverable that has matured from two products MapInfo used to offer. One was MapX, an embeddable desktop mapping engine that customers could build map enabled applications such as an e911 system. You could take it on the road without necessarily being connected to a server. Another was the MapXtreme Windows product on which one would develop web based applications and could be used if you had multiple users accessing the same type of application on a server. “With 2004 we have looked at the advances in technology in terms of the IT environment,” noted Binyamin. “What we saw from a Microsoft perspective, was the maturation of technology with the introduction of .NET. Customers said they had IT related problems that location was a part of. Different development environments required different skill sets and resources. If you were developing for a desktop you needed to be a Visual Basic or C++ developer. If you were a web developer you need to know ASP etc. What that meant was a single environment was needed that allowed customers to develop in any .NET language and target any type of deployment environment. That was appealing to customers who had different deployment needs and had resources they didn't want to dedicate to just web or desktop.”

There was also a limited choice of resources or skillsets for any given project. Another problem was that a company or outsource contractor would have perhaps only three developers who knew how to do web development so the company would have to wait until they became free. Now with .NET anybody who can develop on that platform is available as part of a larger resource pool.

With .NET it has become simpler, according to Binyamin, because it can use different languages and compile them all to MISL Code. Developers have customers who use ASP, Visual Basic.NET or C# (C sharp) and now they can combine that skill set and have each one focuses on the language they're comfortable with and bring in a robust solution that still feels and behaves as one.

Web development environments were incomplete if you were developing in ASP or html. “Visual Studio .net and really changed all that so now you have a professional development environment that you can debug and do all the things that desktop developers were able to do, but web developers had to figure out some other ways to do it, which made it expensive,” said Binyamin.

As the Internet matured, distributed computing became more desirable for more companies. Desktop applications were not necessarily designed to do remote communication, whereas web tools were designed for that type of communication but they did not have the muscle or the capability of building robust feature rich applications. With .NET, remote communications are built in to the product and now you have a very rich environment that allows for remote communication and the capability to develop feature rich applications.

Proprietary systems for storing information have been replaced by XML and SOAP so you can go from one technology to another and so long as both support the SOAP protocols, then you can leverage .NET and Web Services.

MapInfo went back and redesigned their entire object model -“ a single object model that you can deploy for the web or a desktop using the same SDK,” explained Binyamin “so what you can do now using the same exact development environment is build applications for a desktop or the web. You can reuse some of the code to build something for the web and later on quickly migrate that application to a desktop. We are definitely seeing location as less of a special or complicated type of proposition and more of a mainstream proposition that a lot more companies will gravitate towards. The challenge has been to reduce the learning curve and cost of entry to that technology.”

How does MapXtreme 2004 differ from the Microsoft MapPoint Location Server?

“Ours is built on .NET so we're using the latest development environment. The developer tool division of Microsoft business creates .NET which provides this standard development environment,” Gordon explained. “We built MapXtreme to take advantage of that development environment. Just as Microsoft's MapPoint that took advantage of their own inhouse technology. In terms of being a location server, MapXtreme is a product that can be a full development platform for developing location based applications for deployment and hosting within a customer's own environment.”

Binyamin added: “First of all, Microsoft and MapInfo share the understanding and the goal that location should not be a backroom operation. The difference may be that MapInfo's sole business is location and therefore you can expect it to focus a lot more on bringing rich feature sets to the customers, so that out of the box the capabilities customers can have and therefore the type of analysis they can perform with the MapXtreme 2004 offering is much more robust and full featured than what Microsoft may target. Each company has a different deployment strategy that fits their goals. Our goal has always been to provide robust, analytical capability and location based capabilities. You can grow with it and mature with location capabilities as your needs evolve.”

“The second difference is we provide capabilities as a platform. MapXtreme 2004 allows the ability to develop standalone desktop applications that are feature rich that interact with the data, perform complex analysis and aid in data creation, access your native data, using your enterprise systems, compliant with IT and industry standards such as OGC standards, so it goes far beyond providing just basic location capabilities.”

“We are starting to see the maturation of industry standards overall from the OGC-- WMS, WFS, and GML which are all built into the product. It's critical to leverage the technology across the enterprise instead of in technology islands.”

Making GIS and location based technologies digestible, they must be easy to use, said Binyamin. What is easy to use? “We asked, who is our target audience? They are the general public of .NET developers - in that context, ease of use is exposing location based technology in a consistent way, basically “spatially enabling” Visual Studio .NET. MapXtreme has new drag and drop type tools, new templates, installer services extended to location, so once you build your application you can say, package my application and make it ready for deployment. Automatic merge modules for installation allow you to quickly deploy technology to another server that doesn't have the .NET framework or MapXtreme 2004.

Clearly MapInfo has been on the business side of location for a long time. “We are enjoying the fact that people are beginning to recognize that they have location information in their organizations, whether it be knowing where their customers/citizens are, their assets, or their competitors,” concluded Gordon.


Digital Data Services, Inc. (DDS) is pleased to announce that Stephanie Schuette has been hired as the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing.

Stephanie is originally from Dodge City, Kansas and moved to Colorado four years ago. She has a marketing degree from Metropolitan State College of Denver and has over five years of sales experience. Additionally, she has a strong background in graphic design and desktop publishing.


Blue Marble Geographics announced that it has signed an agreement with 4MationGeo, Inc. to sell iSync Mobile 2.1, field data collection software for Windows CE and the Pocket PC. This field-proven product enables Blue Marble to provide its worldwide customer base with an easy-to-use, mobile solution for collecting spatial information.

Plant Equipment, Inc. (Plant), the industry leader in public and private safety telecommunications, and Pictometry International Corp., provider of a patented information system that captures digital aerial oblique and orthogonal images, as well as related software, announced today that the two companies have formed a business partnership.

Rocket Mobile(R), a leading provider of wireless software solutions and technologies, today announced that it will work with the National Geographic Society to develop a wallpaper application for mobile phones that features photographic images from the Society's Image Collection. Hundreds of these images will now be available for mobile phones enabled with QUALCOMM's BREW solution, with more added every month. The company announced the application at the BREW 2004 Developers Conference being held June 7-9 in San Diego.

Contract Awards

GE Energy has been awarded a contract by Wolverine Power Cooperative of Cadillac, Mich. for an XA/21™ energy management system upgrade. GE Energy's XA/21 system provides energy management (EMS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) capabilities combined with an open systems architecture featuring Web-based full graphics, advanced power system applications, historical information storage and retrieval and relational database technology.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the award of multi-year contracts for the acquisition of high-resolution satellite imagery to two US based companies: Space Imaging of Thornton, Colo., and ORBIMAGE, Inc. of Dulles, Va. The contracts estimated at $15 million provide the USGS and its partner agencies with coordinated access to the remote sensing industry's products and services.

ORBIMAGE Inc. (“ORBIMAGE”) announced that it has been awarded a multi-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantify (IDIQ) contract to supply the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and its partner agencies with high-resolution commercial satellite imagery from its OrbView-3 satellite. The award to ORBIMAGE is based on a period of one year, with two additional one-year options. The program under which the USGS has awarded this contract has a total estimated worth of up to $15 million over three years which is expected to be divided among ORBIMAGE and other high-resolution satellite operators.

Excellence Awards

John Russell Jensen, PhD, a Carolina Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina, is the 2004 recipient of the prestigious SAIC/Estes Memorial Teaching Award. This award was made during the ASPRS 2004 Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, May 23-27.


Taylor Technologies, Inc. announces compatibility of their GIS solution, Rapid Integration ToolkitTM (RITTM), with ESRI ArcIMS®. Using RIT, ArcIMS users are able to implement and customize the delivery of GIS data faster than ever before. Implementation times are drastically reduced with RIT, and new customizations are completed without expensive and time-consuming programming or outsourced consulting.

Matrox will be demonstrating one of three Matrox-based workstations for public safety and homeland security from its partner NITECH, an authorized Hewlett-Packard system partner, at this event. The HP XW8000, powered by the new Matrox QID Pro quad-output graphics card, will be running public safety communications and dispatch applications, demonstrating the most efficient layout for data analysis and mission-critical dispatch.
When: Monday, June 14th: 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 15th: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Where: Tampa Convention Center
333 South Franklin St.
Tampa, FL
Matrox Booth: #534

Avenza Systems Inc. announced the immediate availability of floating or networked licenses of MAPublisher 6.0 for Adobe Illustrator. MAPublisher 6.0 is feature-rich mapmaking software used to produce high quality maps from GIS data and the addition of floating licenses make this powerful cartographic production environment even more efficient and workgroup-friendly.

UCLID Software announced that it now provides workflow consulting services for title insurance companies. UCLID is best known for its award-winning mapping software for government, private GIS firms and title insurance companies. The consulting services allow UCLID to build on its expertise with improving data entry of land records.

V-Enable, the worldwide leader in mobile Multimodal solutions, announced it has licensed MapQuest business solutions to offer users an easier, more customized way to receive directory assistance using a mobile device.

By combining V-Enable's technology and MapQuest's mapping services, mobile phone users -- coast-to-coast -- will have the ability to download full-color interactive maps and driving directions. For example, consumers can enter their point of departure and destination information into their mobile device using voice commands and then receive step-by-step driving directions displayed in an easy-to-use format.

Leica Geosystems announced that its North American operations have been recertified to meet ISO 9001:2000. The certification was awarded by the Swiss Association for Quality and Management Systems (SQS) following an audit completed in April 2004, in which no nonconformities were found. It encompasses Leica Geosystems' facilities in Norcross and Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Huntington Beach, California, and includes Group Sales Region Americas (GSR-A) for the Surveying & Engineering Division, Sales Region Americas for the Metrology (IMS) Division and the DISTO Division.

The United States Department of Agriculture Service Center Agency (USDA-SCA) recently implemented a formal training program with ESRI that will provide streamlined access to ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) training curriculum. USDA-SCA GIS users from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Rural Development (RD) agency will take part in the training that will help them provide high-quality data and services to their clients in rural communities throughout the United States and its territories. The three agencies are stewards of spatial and tabular data used by America's farmers and rural communities.

ESRI, the world leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, announced ArcSDE 9 for Oracle has been certified for use on Oracle 10g. Certification for Oracle 10g ensures a high level of interoperability and provides additional options for open and scalable solutions to ESRI software users. As an Oracle alliance partner for more than 10 years, ESRI has fully integrated its GIS technology with Oracle's database management system software and continues to do so with the recent release of Oracle 10g.

New Products

GeoSpatial Experts has released an updated version of its flagship photo mapping software, GPS-Photo Link. Version 3.0 improves upon what is already the most affordable, versatile and professional mapping software on the market. GPS-Photo Link automatically links your digital photos with data from your GPS. After linking to data to the digital image, GPS-Photo Link creates a web page featuring your photos watermarked with the GPS information, topographic maps, and satellite images. ESRI Shape Files are also created, allowing the viewing of the photos in ArcView using the supplied plug-in tool.

Safe Software Inc., the industry leader in spatial ETL technologies, announces the release of the latest version of its flagship product, FME 2004 ICE. Safe Software's latest version of FME contains close to 600 user-requested enhancements, as well as several new and updated formats that bring the total number of FME-supported formats to over 130.

MapInfo announced TargetPro® Online, an interactive web-based tool designed specifically for the UK retail industry. Powerful yet intuitive, TargetPro® Online enables users to execute location-intelligent mission critical analysis by evaluating catchment areas and assessing where to develop networks or open new stores, all without an investment in new software or datasets.

Around the Web....

Critical Flaw Uncovered in Oracle eBusiness Suite, Applications, eWeek, Lisa Vaas, June 9, 2004 - All Oracle Corp. Applications and most E-Business Suite customers are at high risk from multiple, critical SQL injection vulnerabilities, according to this article.

The Wireless Boom that Won't Need Us,, by Quentin Hardy, June 9, 2004 - ZigBee is an emerging wireless standard for short-range machine to machine communications. ZigBee is not for big corporate servers monitoring each others' transactions, but, rather, it's designed to link up an unimaginable number of tiny devices. Think thermostats, lighting controls, environmental sensors, and medical monitors. Networks comprised of these automated devices will generate more information than people can hope to consume and potentially establish hitherto unknown patterns that tell how the world works. Call it the Robonet.

Upcoming Events...

UbiGIS 2004 - First International Workshop on Ubiquitous GIS
Date: June 7 - 9, 2004
Place: Gävle, Sweden
Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp) is seen as one of the big trends in computing. It deals with distributed and mobile computer systems, which make the computer disappear - through a range of new devices and interaction possibilities. On the other side, GIS is changing from a tool for specialists to an infrastructure & tool used in a wide range of domains and applications.

Open Source GIS Conference 2004 and Second Annual MapServer User Meeting
Date: June 9 - 11, 2004
Place: Carleton University Ottawa, Canada
In recent years, the GIS industry has witnessed dramatic growth in the development and adoption of open source technologies. The technical GIS community adopted open source technology relatively early, and now mainstream GIS and broader IT industries have come on board as open source products have matured. Organizations are realizing the value of incorporating open source software as a core part of their business. This conference will provide an exciting opportunity for users and managers to network, learn about products and services, and develop both technical and management skills for adopting open source technologies. The event is expected to draw over 300 people from across the globe representing the existing open source GIS user and developer community and interested participants from government, non-government organizations, academia, and industry.

MapWorld 2004
Date: June 10, 2004
Place: Navy Pier Chicago, IL USA
Whether you are a power user, developer, manager or are new to using MapInfo, MapWorld 2004 is the place to be.

FME Training Course
Date: June 10 - 11, 2004
Place: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Join our two-day (1/3 lecture, 2/3 exercise and problem solving) course and learn to unlock the powerful features of FME to more effectively manage your data translation and data transformation challenges. FME Training can help open up a whole new world of possibilities for you. Questions are encouraged throughout the class and attendees are encouraged to bring their own sample data files.

97th Annual Conference of the Canadian Institue of Geomatics
Date: June 21 - 23, 2004
Place: Westin Hotel Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
It is our great pleasure to invite you to the 97th Annual Conference of the Canadian Institute of Geomatics (CIG), Geomatics: Powering the Future. This Conference will explore the increasing role of geospatial technology in Canada and how it is moving from innovation to an everyday reality.

IDL User's Group Meeting
Date: June 21, 2004
Place: The Marriott Philadelphia conference rooms 304 & 305, Philadelphia, PA USA
Join us for a breakfast meeting at the Society of Nuclear Medicine Symposium 2004

EOGEO 2004
Date: June 23 - 25, 2004
Place: UCL London, United Kingdom
EOGEO is a workshop for developers of Geospatial data services over the Web. It covers a wide field of applications from Earth Observation and GIS to Internet standards. The common themes are Web based solutions to resource discovery, interoperable data access, distributed data services and data fusion.

MapWorld 2004
Date: June 24, 2004
Place: TechMart Santa Clara San Francisco, CA USA
Whether you are a power user, developer, manager or are new to using MapInfo, MapWorld 2004 is the place to be.

ESRI GeoInfo Summit
Date: June 28 - 29, 2004
Place: Chicago, IL USA
Discover how GIS technology provides a cost-effective solution for understanding, serving, and growing your customer base by helping you better organize and visualize existing data.

XXth Congress of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
July 12 - 23, 2004
Istanbul, Turkey
"GeoImagery Bridging Continents" is the theme of this conference. The use of "GEO-IMAGERY" will play an important role in our future professional activities. New technological developments, particularly in computers have significantly influenced the theory and practice of photogrammetry, remote sensing and SIS.

For the full GISCafe calendar see

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.